MCI International within the next two weeks will complete an 18-month project to rearchitect its carrier settlement systems, cutting operating costs by approximately 40% by early 2005.
In the telephone industry, in most cases, no single phone company can complete an international call by itself. It needs to hand off calls to other carriers or use another carrier to carry a call part of the way. On top of that, business agreements with the other carriers change frequently, sometimes by regulators. Inefficient architectures and processes make it difficult for phone companies to know quickly whether they owe money to another carrier or whether money is owed to them.
The MCI Corp. division processes about 20 million phone calls daily, or more than 500 million monthly. MCI's new system will enable it to extract data collected by switch records, convert to a common format, load into a multiterabyte database, and sort out settlement statements with more than 700 telecommunications carriers worldwide more cheaply and efficiently. It can handle 6 million to 7 million records per hour, making business procedures easier and reducing daily processing time to five hours from 12 hours. "The business logic is extremely complex, consisting of several hundred thousand lines of Cobol code, 500 lines of data junction scripting, and 10,000 transact sequel variant that store procedures," says Chris Aher, senior manager for information management and engineering at MCI International. "Having the ability to translate the data and apply business rules to the records is very valuable." The ability to quickly edit and process information will keep ongoing development costs down.
The telephone number, time, date, and type of call is collected in a "toll ticket" that's transferred from international gateway switches to the corporate mainframes. That information is automatically translated using Pervasive Software Inc.'s Pervasive Data Integrator into data that's readable by Microsoft SQL. "It is a very time-consuming and expensive proposition to hand-code these conversions," Aher says. With Pervasive Data Integrator, MCI International's programmers were able to build maps from one record layout to the other, in order to translate the data that's required to settle the company's more than 80,000 business agreements with other carriers. The information is consolidated into a terabyte-plus database that stores 1.5 billion calls--about three months' worth--at any given time.
The system can also handle voice-over-IP records, a growing percentage for MCI International's business, which might travel over an IP switch rather than a gateway switch. But the software made it possible for the division to map out a new record translation path.